BRUSSELS, December 9 /PRNewswire/ -- - A report launched today by experts from medical and patient communities calls on Europe's policy makers to take urgent action against preventable strokes that strike thousands of atrial fibrillation (AF) patients each year - Affecting over six million people in Europe, AF, the most common, sustained abnormal heart rhythm, increases the risk of stroke five- fold and is responsible for 15-20% of all strokes caused by blood clots (ischaemic stroke), - The consequences of stroke can devastate not only a patient's quality of life, but also that of families and carers - The economic burden of stroke on the European economy is estimated at a staggering EUR 38 billion per annum - The impact of stroke is predicted to rise dramatically as the number of individuals affected by AF is expected to increase 2.5 fold by 2050, due to an ageing population and improved survival of patients with conditions which predispose AF (e.g. heart attack)  - Many AF-related strokes could be prevented by earlier detection and improved treatment of AF
Urgent coordinated action is needed to avoid the thousands of preventable
strokes that leave many atrial fibrillation (AF) patients mentally and
physically disabled or dead, every year. A report, How Can We Avoid a Stroke
Crisis?, launched in the European Parliament today by Action for Stroke
Prevention, a group of health experts from across
The Report warns of a stroke epidemic across
Recommendations made by the Report include: improving patient education and stroke risk assessment, taking new approaches to prevention, facilitating the exchange of best practice between Member States, developing strategies to support adherence to guidelines, and the provision of equal and adequate administration of therapy for patients with AF.
Unmet medical need to prevent stroke in atrial fibrillation patients
"It is clear that there is an unmet medical need for stroke prevention in
atrial fibrillation patients," said Professor
Stroke is the most common cardiovascular disorder after heart disease. Current trends predict that the number of strokes in the EU will rise from 1.1 million per year in 2000 to 1.5 million per year by 2025. Furthermore, AF related strokes are more severe, cause greater disability and have a worse outcome than strokes in patients without AF. People who have a stroke caused by AF are more likely to remain in hospital for longer, are less likely to be discharged to their home and are 50% more likely to remain disabled,.
"The impact of the physical, emotional and cognitive disability on
patients following a stroke can be considerable," said
The impact of stroke also stretches our healthcare systems. The economic burden it creates accounts for 2-3% of total healthcare expenditure in the European Union. Healthcare costs associated with stroke are higher for patients with AF than for patients without AF. AF is a strong independent risk factor for stroke and accounts for 15-20% of all ischaemic strokes (strokes caused by blood clots)[2,3].
The number of people suffering from AF is around six million in
About AF and stroke
AF is the most common, sustained abnormal heart rhythm. It causes the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) to quiver instead of beating effectively, resulting in blood not being completely pumped out, which in turn causes pooling and can lead to clotting in the atria. If a blood clot leaves the atria, it can become lodged in an artery in the brain blocking the blood supply and causing the patient to suffer from an ischaemic stroke. Approximately one in five ischaemic strokes are due to AF.
AF-related strokes are more severe, cause greater disability and have a
worse prognosis than strokes in patients without AF. Although the current
treatment for stroke--vitamin K antagonists such as warfarin--can be
effective, they are also associated with a number of drawbacks and are
currently underused in
Preventing AF in patients at risk of arrhythmia, diagnosing AF before the first stroke occurs and following recommendations regarding the use of anticoagulation therapies, including potential new treatment options, are critical for effective prevention of AF-related strokes.
About the Report
The authors are global leaders in cardiology, neurology, health economics, policy and patient advocacy.
The Report's call to action and recommendations are endorsed by: - ADKA (The German Society of Hospital Pharmacists) - AntiCoagulation Europe (ACE) - Arrhythmia Alliance (A-A) - Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA) - European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Working Group on Thrombosis - European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) - European Brain Council (EBC) - European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) - European Primary Care Cardiovascular Society (EPCCS) - European Stroke Organisation (ESO) - European Stroke Conference - German Competence Network on Atrial Fibrillation (AFNET) - International Council of Nurses (ICN) - Italian Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATBV) Working Group - Sociedad EspaÃ±ola de Neurologia (Spanish Neurological Association) - StopAfib.org - World Stroke Organization (WSO) The Action for Stroke Prevention alliance is financially supported by Bayer Schering Pharma AG.
 Kannel WB, Benjamin EJ. Status of the epidemiology of atrial
Framingham Study. Arch Intern Med 1987;147:1561-4
 Marini C, De Santis F, Sacco S et al. Contribution of atrial fibrillation to incidence and outcome of ischemic stroke: results from a population based study. Stroke 2005;36:1115-19
 Wolfe CD. The impact of stroke. Br Med Bull 2000;56:275-86
 White CL, Poissant L, Cote-LeBlanc G, et al. Long-term caregiving after stoke: the impact on caregivers' quality of life. J Neurosci Nurs 2006;38:354-60
 Allender S, Scarborough P, Peto V et al. European cardiovascular
disease statistics 2008 edition.
 Go AS, Hylek EM, Phillips KA, et al. Prevalence of diagnosed atrial fibrillation in adults: national implications for rhythm management and stroke prevention: the AnTicoagulation and Risk Factors in Atrial Fibrillation (ATRIA) Study. JAMA 2001;285:2370-5
 Miyasaka Y, Barnes ME, Gersh BJ et al. Secular trends in incidence of
atrial fibrillation in
 Briffa T, Hickling S, Knuiman M, et al. Long term survival after evidence based treatment of acute myocardial infarction and revascularisation: follow-up of population based Perth MONICA cohort, 1984-2005. BMJ 2009;338:b36
 Kirchhof et al. Early and comprehensive management of atrial fibrillation: Proceedings from the 2nd AFNET/EHRA consensus conference on AF entitled 'Research perspectives in AF', EurHJ 2009
 World Health Organization. The global burden of disease: 2004
 Truelsen T, Piechowski-Jozwiak B, Bonita R et al. Stroke incidence
and prevalence in
 Lamassa M, Di Carlo A, Pracucci G et al. Characteristics, outcome,
and care of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation in
 Bruggenjurgen B, Rossnagel K, Roll S et al. The impact of atrial
fibrillation on the cost of stroke: the
 Health-EU: Cardiovascular disorders.
 NHS Choices. Atrial fibrillation. 2007 http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Atrial-fibrillation Accessed November 2009
 Olsson SB, Helperin J. Prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Seminars in Vascular Medicine 2005;5(3):285-92
(Due to the length of the above URLs, it may be necessary to copy and paste the hyperlinks into your Internet browser's URL address field. Remove the space if one exists.) Contacts Lucy Yeatman firstname.lastname@example.org T: +44-20-7462-8957 Wioletta Niznik email@example.com T: +44-20-7462-8913
SOURCE Action for Stroke Prevention (ASP) Alliance